Custom Work

Custom: Tent Pole Bag

Custom work is always a great opportunity to stretch out a little and see how much progress I’ve made in patterning and sewing. This commission was for a tent pole bag to be attached to the top tube of a bike based on a few dimensional needs and a fixed price point. The principle feature was a PALS strip running the entire top and sides and terminating at the bottom corners with loops for extras.

Laying out the facets in chalk

I find it helpful to think about patterning as the outside skin of a desired “box.” Here, I did some math adding up the heights and widths of the various faces on paper then laying them out in chalk on the inner face of the material. I find acrylic quilting rulers to be very useful in this step. The material was then cut out with a hot knife to seal the thread ends.

Sewing on the PALS strip was a new challenge I wanted to get right. I believe I set the stitch up for 1.2 mm advances to 2mm width on the Sailrite LSZ-1. I later cleaned up the threads in between each tack seen as diagonal lines. This strip was used to affix custom velcro straps shown later.

The zipper used was a YKK #5 Vislon zipper with metal, non locking zipper. I find vislon to outperform chain zippers in dirty environments, and in general feel too.

Ends sewn together. I sewed the tube first, then the ends, then the corners to shape the cylinder into a box to spec. It ended up being a little long and greater in circumference than was asked, about a 1/4″ which I hope is acceptable.

Custom length velcro straps
Completed bag!
Here’s the lovely bag in use! Image from/used with permission from the customer

Thanks for reading!
– Mirkat

Around the shop

Few things around the shop…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted or even made anything really, I’ve been very busy with snow falling and work at the local ski hill. In my spare time I have been teaching myself CAD and working on some design and artistic elements that will hopefully make their way onto the site.

One of my long running ideas is to organize my work and educational material to resemble a video game or role playing game. There’s quite a bit of psychology behind the idea, which I was exposed to through one of my favorite classes in college based around digital culture. The work of Jane McGonigal in particular really made an impact on designing knowledge and skill progressions to keep students engaged ( TED Talks ).

In working towards this idea, and balancing all of the other wacky projects I have ruminating, I took up pixel art to refocus and simplify the essence of my goals. Pixel art creates a purposeful sandbox in which to play around in without getting lost. By limiting myself to 100 pixels and 2 tones, the goal of telling a story becomes less daunting. It’s relaxing and stimulating simultaneously, while offering a progression of larger canvases, textures, and colors.

My Singer 6800 pixelated

Reflecting on what I’ve experienced so far, my limited time with pixel art has reminded me of the core values that draw me towards craft. It’s so easy to get lost in any aspect of making something – or really – making something of one’s life. It’s been about chasing the best of the best, and trying to become the best but I’ve been reminded that it’s about the story, which can be related in very simple terms, 1,000 pixels and sometimes 2 colors.

Anyway, looking forward I’ll be working on pixelating some of my tools and machines and working on a skill tree as a guide for both my journey through the craft world and anyone wanting to follow along. Until next time!

Horse and rider heading towards the canyons during sunset animation
Shop Tours Tools

Shop Tour: Fabrics.

I’ve been dragging my feet writing a blog about my work, so decided to start with something easy to talk about, my workspace. I’m based out of a corner of my partner’s leatherworking shop, so my set up is always changing to suit the project at hand. Currently, I’m working on some cotton wrapping cloths and have everything out for fabric craft.

Cutting set up

Starting with the cutting of the fabric: I’m using a rotary tool and acrylic ruler with cutting mat. You’ll see a mix of brands here. Fiskars mat and ruler plus an Omnigrip. Olfa rotary tool, this one is a little more ergonomic than others and has a far superior cutting edge. Mid-20th century Wiss shears I restored to round out the cutters. Expect another post on cutting fabric, this is my level 3 set-up, I’ll share what level 1 and 2 look like + cutting synthetics.


Moving on to pressing: A yard of canvas serves as my ironing “board,” a surprisingly versatile setup. I currently use a Sunbeam traveling iron, works great for pressing seams and hems. I just acquired the Clover hot ruler and I’m still learning to use it to make clean miter corners.

Sewing machine and tools

Sewing: Just got this Singer HD 6800 computerized machine. It’s my first computerized machine and sounds like a printer. I prefer control, and I seem to have more than I have ever had, even compared to my servo’d Sailrite LSZ1. Needle up/down is life changing. I also have the extension table, which is very useful when you don’t have a dedicated sewing area. Expect a review. Here I’m using Coats thread, but I have Gutermann around as well. Chopstick folding tool, for getting the points clean on the miter corners, generic thread cutter, and bic lighter fir finishing thread ends round out my sewing tools.

Honorable mentions for future posts: My Sailrite LSZ1 will have a review with some mods/set up hacks soon. I’m also restoring a late 50s Kenmore machine and an 80’s mechanical Singer and will write up some of the process for those with a machine in the attic that needs some love.

Thanks for reading, please leave any question below in the comments!